The lack of serious conversation about dating has left Weigel with rich territory to explore, and she makes excellent use of it. Dating, she explains, didn’t even exist until the early 20th century.
“Labor of Love” covers a wide cross-section of social phenomena — the 1920s Harlem rent parties, the 1990s safe-sex movement, today’s swipe-right culture — showing how the ways people meet and mate are influenced by the social and economic conditions of their time. Today they’re mostly viewed as setups for jokes about over-cologned men asking, “What’s your sign? Before then, prospective spouses met under family supervision in homes or at church dances.
Throughout the book, Weigel draws connections between courtship and commerce.
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